Sustainability made simple

How to Clean Grill Grates Quickly, Step-by-Step

How to clean cast iron grill grates
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / suju-foto

You need to get grease, rust and grime off your BBQ grill before you can make delicious food. Here's how to clean grill grates effectively without harming the environment.

If you’re looking forward to skewers and burgers but not the job of cleaning your cast iron BBQ grill, don’t worry. We’ll show you how to clean grill grates the eco-friendly way, as well as how to remove and prevent rust.

There are many benefits to using cast iron grills for cooking, including:

  • Cast iron is durable and can last generations. 
  • It conducts heat evenly and retains that heat for a long time, making it excellent for searing and creating grill marks on your food.
  • The more you use cast iron grills, the better they get! With correct maintenance and care, their surface becomes naturally non-stick — a bonus if you grill a lot.
  • Your food is fortified by the iron, helping you get more in your diet.

However, the one downside of cast iron is its vulnerability to rusting. In fact, caring for a cast iron grill is not so different from caring for cast iron pans. You just need to keep them away from prolonged exposure to water and moisture. That’s why it’s important to know how to season cast iron grill grates before cooking and after cleaning.

But first: let’s learn how to clean BBQ grills.

How to Clean Grill Grates

Regular cleaning and seasoning will help your cast iron last a lifetime.
Regular cleaning and seasoning will help your cast iron last a lifetime.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / StockSnap)

Cleaning grill grates is much easier to do while they’re still hot. But since cast iron is great at retaining heat, you can relax and eat your food before you begin. You won’t need a specialty BBQ grill cleaner either; however, if you’re looking at particularly tough grease or grime, make an eco-friendly cleaning paste to get rid of it.

BBQ Grill Cleaning Paste Ingredients:

  • 3 parts baking soda
  • 1 part salt
  • 1 part apple cider vinegar

Combine ingredients, adding the vinegar to the baking soda and salt little by little until you have a workable paste. The uses of apple cider vinegar for cleaning around the house are vast, so it’s always a good idea to have some handy.

How to Clean Grill Grates:

  1. Remove your food.
  2. Open the vents if using charcoal. If using gas, turn your grill up to high.
  3. Close the lid and keep the heat on for around 20 to 25 minutes to burn off any excess food particles before closing the vents to extinguish your charcoals or turning your grill down. 
  4. Once you’re done eating, the grill should have cooled down enough for you to comfortably start cleaning. Take a grill brush and scrape off any remaining particles. 
  5. Use a BBQ cleaning paste for tougher bits of stuck-on food (see ingredients above).
  6. Apply the cleaning paste using a rag, and scrub until partially loosened. 
  7. Scrub the grates with the grill brush one more time and wipe dry with a clean cloth.

Tip: If you don’t own a grill brush, you can wad up a sheet of aluminum foil into a ball. Do NOT use a nylon bristle brush — it will melt, leaving behind particles you definitely don’t need in your food.

Repeat this cleaning procedure after every use, and your cast iron grates will last a lifetime. If it’s been a long time since you last cleaned your BBQ grill, consider leaving the cleaning paste on overnight and attacking the grime the following day.

Removing Rust

ow to clean grill grates: keep them free from ash, which store moisture, leading to rust.
ow to clean grill grates: keep them free from ash, which store moisture, leading to rust.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Skitterphoto)

If you’re new to cast iron, you may find yourself with a rusty grill— especially if you’ve tried to clean it using soap. However, it is possible to salvage your cast iron from rust.

You may want to wear old clothes when cleaning rust, or learn how to remove rust stains if you run into mishaps!

DIY Rust Remover Ingredients:

  • 64 fl oz or more white vinegar
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • large enough container to fit your cast iron grill
  • steel wool

How to Remove Rust from Grill Plates:

  1. Once they are completely cool, remove the cast iron grates from your grill.
  2. Fill the container with the vinegar and baking soda and mix well
  3. Fully submerge your cast iron grates in the solution and leave them to sit overnight or longer if there is a lot of rust.
  4. Remove the grates from the solution and scrub off the remaining rust with steel wool.
  5. Rise the grates and pat them dry with a towel before placing back on the grill.
  6. Turn the heat on low and slowly dry out the grates.

Once the cast iron is back to its original condition, re-season them. 

To help prevent the build-up of rust moving forward, keep water out by covering your grill between uses, especially if you live in snowy or rainy areas. Since ash can hold moisture, you should clean it out once the grill cools completely.

Now that you know how to clean grill grates, enjoy your delicious BBQ-grilled eats.

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